Volvo optimistic for 2018 as truck sales bounce back

Volvo optimistic for 2018 as truck sales bounce back

UD Trucks celebrating 15,000 Quester units produced at the Samut Prakan plant yesterday, with Mr Michel, left, and Kamlarp Sirikittiwatn, right.
UD Trucks celebrating 15,000 Quester units produced at the Samut Prakan plant yesterday, with Mr Michel, left, and Kamlarp Sirikittiwatn, right.

Volvo Group Thailand is optimistic the overall truck market can grow over 10% this year after all segments posted healthy gains in the first seven months.

Truck registrations at the Land Transport Department rose 19.3% for the heavy-duty segment to 10,500 units while medium-duty registrations increased by 11.9% to 4,700 units over the first seven months.

President Kamlarp Sirikittiwatn said earlier the group has a growth projection of 5% for the 2018 market, but many business sectors have performed better than expected, such as construction, export and agriculture.

"Most sectors have shown positive signs of a boost in the truck market -- that is why the group has increased its market outlook for 2018," he said. "The overall economy also performed better."

Last year, the overall heavy-duty truck market contracted 5% to 16,293 trucks, while the medium-duty sector dropped 9% to 7,307 trucks.

In Thailand, the group is marketing two truck brands in its portfolio: Volvo and UD.

During the first seven months, UD showed strong growth of 17% to 480 trucks while Volvo remains in the red with 150 truck deliveries, down by 14.3%.

Mr Kamlarp said most business sectors in Thailand are the target market for UD trucks, while the Volvo brand is focusing on safety and long-haul driving.

Last year, the group sold 356 Volvo trucks, 9% less than 2016. The UD made 895 units, up 12% from a year before.

The UD brand is ranked third in the overall truck segment, after Japanese peers Isuzu and Hino.

The UD, formerly known as Nissan Diesel, was founded in Japan in 1935 before becoming part of Gothenburg-based Volvo Group in 2007.

UD Trucks on Monday celebrated total output of 15,000 trucks for the heavy-duty Quester model made at its plant in Samut Prakan province.

The group's manufacturing facility, run by Thai-Swedish Assembly Co, has an annual production capacity of 4,500 Volvo trucks and 20,000 UD trucks.

Jacques Michel, president of Volvo Group Trucks Asia & JVs Sales, said the Quester was first introduced to Thailand in mid-2013 as part of UD Trucks' foray into emerging markets, with Thailand as the regional production hub for Southeast Asia and worldwide.

Last year, the plant built combined 8,003 trucks, up by 95% from 4,102 a year before. The Quester truck produced roughly 5,500 units.

The UD Croner was introduced last March as a medium-duty truck, the group's first foray in the local medium-duty sector, 2,000 units of which were produced in 2017.

Mr Michel said Indonesia was the top destination for shipments, with 1,280 completely built-up and 1,540 completely knocked-down UD-branded vehicles last year.

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